The technology of monitoring game trails has progressed rapidly since man first decided he needed to know what time his prey walked down a specific path. The 35 mm versions have all but disappeared with the explosion of the digital age and manufacturers have been scampering to get a piece of the market ever since. Cuddeback has always been a leader in the digital market and their new Capture model trail camera proves that they are continuing to produce quality products.
The Cuddeback Capture digital scouting camera.
A trail camera that is hard to use is about as useful as a treestand without a ladder. Cuddeback advertises that "5 minutes is all it takes to master the Capture" and with its simple but effective design, most users will probably even have a couple of minutes left over. All functions are performed with a rotary switch and two buttons and each step is clearly described in the concise but thorough operating instructions. Once the date and time are set, there are actually only two steps - attach it to a tree and turn it on. It can't get much simpler than that.
Operating the Capture is simple with the use of a rotary dial and two buttons.
Like many of the modern trail cameras, the Capture makes use of readily available batteries and memory. Most manufacturers have figured out that four D-cell batteries will provide adequate operation time while still allowing a compact housing design. Although results will certainly vary depending on battery quality, air temperature and the amount of flash photos taken, the Capture averages about 2,000 photos on a single set of batteries. A low battery indicator appears on the LCD screen when it is time for a change. Storing a large number of photos used to be a problem, but the capabilities and small size of Secure Digital (SD) cards has made them a popular solution in the trail camera market. The Capture will accept an SD card up to 2 GB in capacity. Although it will not accept the new SDHC (Secure Digital High Capacity) cards that allow for more storage, a 2 GB card will hold over 2,000 photos at the 3.0 megapixel resolution of the Capture and that will probably suffice for most people.
A standard Secure Digital (SD) card allows for sufficient storage of thousands of photos.
Connecting the Capture to a tree is performed by a single strap threaded through a brace on the back of the housing. Although the strap buckle allows the user to cinch the camera fairly tight, the use of a single strap leaves the camera subject to the possibility of wobbling in windy conditions. Designing the housing with two brackets would have eliminated this problem and would have only added a few seconds to the installation process.
The single strap of the Capture is secure but the addition of a
second bracket and strap would decrease wobble.
When it comes to trail cameras, I used to think the most important feature was their ability to take photos. My opinion changed when I used a camera of a different brand that took photos reliably but I found it impossible to keep the correct date and time on the unit. A photo of a buck is not near as beneficial if you have to guess at what day and time he came by your stand. The Capture proved to be completely consistent in the accuracy of the date and time imprint on the photos. To test the actual ability of the Capture to "capture" game, I elicited the help of my trusty canine companion, Bailey. I wanted to be able to have an animal follow a specific path at a determined yardage and consistent speed. I performed identical tests during the day and night that included paths directly away from and toward the camera as well as perpendicular to the camera at two different distances. The resulting photos are described below.
These shots were taken by having Bailey sit approximately 100 feet distance directly in front of the camera. I then had her approach in a straight line at a trot. In both cases, the camera fired when she reached approximately 10 to 15 feet and captured her image.
These shots were taken by having Bailey sit directly behind the camera. I then had her pass the camera and move directly away in a straight line at a trot. In both cases, the camera fired when she reached approximately 10 to 15 feet and captured her image.
These shots were taken by having Bailey sit to the side of the camera. I then had her pass perpendicular to the camera in a straight line at a distance of about 10 feet. In both cases, the camera fired but the nighttime sequence failed to capture the image quickly enough to see her head.
These shots were taken by having Bailey sit to the side of the camera. I then had her pass perpendicular to the camera in a straight line at a distance of about 50 feet, the advertised effective range of the Capture. In both cases, the camera fired but the nighttime image is difficult to see due to her being on the very edge of the flash coverage.
In this day and age of "bells and whistles" marketing, Cuddeback chose to stick to the basics with the Capture digital scouting camera. They certainly have their own models with loads of extra features, but the Capture was designed for the budget-minded consumer that wants an easy, reliable trail camera. With its simple design, it truly takes 5 minutes or less to master the functions and have it ready to put in the woods. The Capture fired every time that "game" appeared in its range and imprinted the correct date and time. The nighttime photos seemed to have a little longer lag time, but that can be expected since the unit must also operate the flash. The only photo that did not show the entire animal was a close yardage, nighttime, passing shot and the subject appeared in the camera's detection zone for less than one second. In reality, few people would set their camera perpendicular to a trail at this close of a distance. Cuddeback was wise in manufacturing a model for those that don't need all the bells and whistles. There is little doubt that the Capture is a unit that does what it is intended to do, "capture" photos and tell you exactly when you should have been sitting in your stand.
For more information about the Cuddeback Capture trail camera, visit www.cuddeback.com .
Larry R. Beckett Jr. is a full time freelance writer, photographer and videographer. His greatest joy is spending time fishing, hunting and hiking with his wife and son. Larry discovered his enthusiasm for the outdoors at a young age and devotes much of his time trying to instill that same enthusiasm in future generations.